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Old 15th March 2009   #41 (permalink)
taherman
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Default Re: Caudata.org Grant Poll

I didn't contribute to this donation drive, as I don't feel that my personal finances as a zookeeper are my strongest asset for contributing to amphibian conservation

However, to play devil's advocate to what is now a clear leader in this donation drive...

Both of the hellbender populations being assessed in #9 fall within areas which were glaciated during the Wisconsinan (most recent) glaciation event, ending roughly 10,000 years ago. Although the Susquehanna River is unique in that it contains the only hellbender population which does not reside within the Mississippi River watershed, 10,000 years is a blink of an eye in terms of salamander mitochondrial genetics and I think it is highly unlikely that much, if any, genetic differentiation would be detectable between these two rivers. Broader scope genetic analyses have already been conducted on this species (Sabatino and Routman 2008; Routman et al. 1994; Routman 1993) which, as expected, showed that the deep genetic divergences occur in the southern populations. Sabatino and Routman (2008) included samples from both the Susquehanna and Ohio River watersheds and found them to be indistinguishable. Though this study may provide data which helps the state of New York allocate it's hellbender research resources, it probably won't have a major impact on salamander (or even hellbender) conservation writ large.

Though the hellbender's plight is extremely serious, a LOT of research attention and funding (relative to other salamanders) has already been directed at this species. It is on the verge of being federally listed, which will likely result in this attention and funding being vastly increased.

In the interest of transparency, it should be pointed out that I am affiliated with one of the other applications indirectly. It wasn't an easy decision to comment in this thread, because of that potential bias, though in the end I figure that I am a caudata.org member who may have more information at his disposal than others do, and my input might be useful. My comments above stem from my experience with salamander genetics rather than a bias towards other applications. I want to see this grant be used in a way which provides the greatest salamander conservation bang for your donation buck :)

-Tim

Last edited by Jan; 15th March 2009 at 19:30. Reason: clarification
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